Alfred Rural Cemetery Entrance

Alfred Rural Cemetery 1.0

This cemetery is a large, active and well maintained cemetery located between the Village of Alfred and settlement of Alfred Station, NY.

Alfred Rural Cemetery The listing provided here was transcribed from 3 x 5 card information available at Alfred State College in the Jean Lang Historical Collection.  The information on the cards was copied by Mary Rhodes and transcribed by Sheila and William A. Greene in 2012.  The listings are broken into partial sections of the alphabet to allow for faster loading of pages.  The original cards were written several years ago and have not been updated by us.  At the bottom of this page is an offsite link for some more recent deaths.  There is additional information on the cards that might not be presented here.

Photos courtesy of Amy Burgett.

NOTE: Family members have asked in some cases that changes be made to our listing that we transcribed from the original cards.  Where possible, these changes are shown in bold/italic font to guide that a change has been made.  As stated many times before, these lists are not official facts, but, guides to allow you to do your own research further and prove your genealogy facts.... webmaster.

                               ***READ AN INTERESTING STORY BELOW THE LISTINGS*** 

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Additional updates to the card file created in the above listings have been offered by the Painted Hills Genealogy Society website.  We take no responsibility for the information or for completeness & revisions since it is their list.  Any questions or corrections to these updates should be communicated to Painted Hills.  

click:   Painted Hills - Alfred Rural


Below is an article reprinted from the Alfred Sun and the January 4, 1934 Allegany County Democrat newspapers.  Researched & Transcribed by Mary A. Rhodes.  This article tells a great deal of Alfred area history as well as the history of this two cemeteries.



Alfred Rural CemeteryThe remains of some of the first settlers of Alfred, which were buried on what is known as “the old Thacher cemetery,”  have recently been moved to the Alfred Rural Cemetery and placed together in a plot reserved for them.

The old burying ground from which they were transferred, is situated in a dense thicket off the main road to Alfred Station across from the Motor Filling Station.  On one side is a steep wooded hill.  A grove of pines has grown up and flourished since these pioneers were interred there ant the ground is covered with myrtle.  So thick have the trees and thorn bushes become that a casual passerby would never observe it.  Indeed, it could be found only with difficulty by someone in search of it.  There on this little wooded knoll, peacefully sleeping, some of them for more than a century, have lain this little band of study pioneers.  This abandoned cemetery might well have been the inspiration of Gray’s “Elegy.”

While one or two of the stones were of marble, most of them were of common field stone, a material so soft that some of the inscriptions have been totally obliterated by the elements and otherwise are almost illegible.  The project of moving these remains was accomplished through the untiring interest of Harley Sherman, and those who are interested in preserving these historic graves are grateful to him.  They will receive the care they deserve in the Alfred Rural Cemetery, otherwise in another decade or two all trace of them would have vanished.

Little is known about many of the individuals who were buried in this little plot so long ago.  A name almost erased from a crude stone is all the record that we have that they worked, struggled and died here.  Of the life in general during that period we have, however, a very clear picture.  The land that they settled was sold by Robert Morris in 1791, to Pulteney, Hornby and Colquhoun of London, Eng., and their agents whose office was at Bath sold it to the settlers for from $2 to $4 an acre.

Early in the 19th century Alfred and the land about it was an uninterrupted forest.  The History of Allegany County tells us that ”the earliest settlers followed Indian trails and the roads were bridgeless and of the most primitive kind, making travel tedious and difficult.  From Hornellsville westward for many years the roads were little more than wood paths marked by blazed trails.”  Into this untamed wilderness came these early residents of Alfred.  They felled trees, erected their log cabins, cleared land for orchards and pastures, built roads schools and churches and contributed in no small way to the ease and comfort now enjoyed by those of us who live here.  The year 1817 was one of unusual hardship.   It is called the “season without a summer,” for severe frosts in every month practically destroyed the crops, and the inhabitants subsisted on ground nuts, “putty root” and leeks.

Abel Burdick was among those buried in the Thacher cemetery.  His marker records his death in 1854, at the age of 80 years, and on it is inscribed this quaint epitaph:

“Dear friends on earth who now survive
Obey the voice of God and live
That you with me may dwell in love
Around the throne of God above.”

By his side lay his wife, Elizabeth, who died November 28, 1852, aged 77 years.  Her epitaph reads as follows:

“Come back this is the way
Come back and walk herein
Oh may you harken and obey
And shun the path of sin.”

Abel Burdick was from Brookfield and settled in Alfred in 1814, on the farm which adjoins that now owned by Harley Sherman.  Slight of stature, weighing less than 100 pounds, he must have possessed the sturdy virtues of the pioneer, surviving hardships and living to the ripe old age of 80.  It is said that he and his three sons not yet grown, made in one year 2,900 pounds of maple sugar.  The sap was caught in troughs hewn out of cherry and basswood trees, and gathered with shoulder yokes and buckets.  It was boiled out-of-doors in cauldron kettles.  Thereafter the neighborhood was always known as “Sugar Hill.”.  He appears to have been a man of considerable education and in later life wrote articles which appeared in the early agricultural papers.  His orchard was planted with trees which he raised from seed, but after they were set out, he discovered that he had planted them on the adjoining tract of land.  So he made a trip to Bath and succeeded in buying it, and to this day there is included in this farm the extra piece of land where Abel planted his first orchard.

One stone is erected to the memory of Abigail, wife of Peter Rose, who died March 16, 1834, aged 36 years:

"Friends nor physicians could not save
This mortal body from the grave
Nor can the grave confine it here
When Christ the Savior shall appear."

Her husband, Peter Rose, was a soldiers in the War of 1812.  He took 90 acres on “Sugar Hill” in 1819.  After her death he moved west, where he died in 1877.

Samuel Thacher, owner of the cemetery, was also buried there.  He was a native of Vermont, coming from Hornellsville in 1817.  He married Ruth, widow of Edward Green, and sister of Freeborn Hamilton.  We are told that his home was located near the present home of Fred Palmer.  The History of Allegany County says, “Mr. Thacher was a substantial and much respected citizen.”

Another grave is that of Reuben S. Davidson, who died June 24, 1821, in the 20th year of his age.  The stones was erected to his memory by his mother.  On it appears the famous stanza from Gray’s “Elegy:”

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flow’r is born to blush unseen
And waste its fragrance on the desert air.”

There is something very moving in the picture of this mother, in a new, strange, wild country burying this son, just grown to manhood, and it takes but little imagination to picture the fond hopes that lie buried there.  Indeed, these verses from that famous poem might well have been inscribed upon his grave:

“Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire
Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
“Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown;
Fair Science frown’d not on his humble birth
And Melancholy marked him for her own."

A tiny stone marks the final resting place of one “James Henry,” aged one year, eight months and 26 days:

“Oh take these little lambs, said He
And lay them on my breast
Protection they shall find
And in my arms be pressed.”

Reuben Monroe, who died in 1844, at the age of 47, has this verse inscribed upon his tombstone, apparently placed there by his wife:

“Come all my friends both far and near
A doleful story you shall hear
How I am bereaved of my bosom friend
That God to me so sweet did lend”

Reuben Merrill Monroe, who died in 1939, was also buried there.  These are probably descendants of Seely Monroe, who settled in Alfred in 1816.  Members of this family still live in Alfred Station.

Another grave with a marker which is still legible is that of Sarah, widow of Libeus Cottrell, who died March 24, 1834, aged 73.

Most of the graves had a stone at the head and foot.  The older headstones were decorated with a highly conventionalized weeping willow which seems to have been the motif of ornamentation then in use.